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More Ideas for How to Use Grass-fed Ground Beef

In our current times, when most people are struggling financially, one way to stretch our food budget is to use the more inexpensive cuts of grass-fed meat, such as ground beef. Recently one of my reader friends, Erin, suggested I turn this topic into a post. Good idea, Erin!

Ours comes with beef heart

One note: the ground beef we buy is a bit more expensive because we get it from our farmer with some beef heart also ground in with it. There is NO taste difference, believe me, I’d know, and it provides extra nutrients!

First I’ll share my favorite ground beef recipes, and then I’m hoping you’ll share all of yours in the comments!

(Here’s where to find a safe source for grass-fed meat.)

By the way, the picture above is our son helping me make meatballs. :)

Your turn, share your favorites!


  1. Awesome!! I feel inspired. So often I just kinda look at my ground beef and go, “Ehhh…. spaghetti?” :-/ I’ll have a look at this list instead, next time!

    Oh and I totally love the sneaking in ground organs trick, too. I usually grate a hunk of frozen liver and squish it all together — brrr! You are lucky to have a butcher doing it for you!

  2. okay, I have to ask.. can you noticeably/visually tell that the heart is ground in? We just got 1/4 grass fed beef but may try this next time.

    • This printed off great for my recipe book and sounds amazing for a family soup.. thank you “musings of a housewife” and thank you Kelly for your “always” great recipes.

  3. One of our favorite recipes for ground beef is tacos, enchiladas, or taco salad in the summer. I do some variation of it pretty often. I also do the sneaking in thing when I can.

  4. My easy, lazy, one-more-ground-beef meal is something I like to call “hamburger mash” and it varies quite a bit, depending on what’s in the fridge or the garden. I use a pound or two of ground beef, leftover cooked rice or potatoes, and whatever vegie(s) I have on hand — they could be from the freezer or chopped fresh from the garden. If I have it, I may throw some tallow or bacon grease in there as well. I salt it well and add the Real Salt brand of season salt (which is the secret flavor that makes hamburger mash, hamburger mash). My older kids love it, the younger ones not so much — too many things touching each other. This dish is so incredibly flexible and always good. And there is no measuring whatsoever; just make it look the way you want it to look. It could even be made more paleo by leaving out the starch. I’m sure one could have all sorts of fun with various herbs and flavors, but I may have to wait for the kids tastebuds to advance before I mix it up too much.
    Good post, Kelly. Thanks for the ideas!

  5. My current favorite way to use ground beef is baked curried meatballs. You can make it Indian curry or more Thai curry, depending on what you feel like.

    For Indian curry I’ll mix in with the ground beef: grated ginger, garlic, onion, curry powder, and (optional) cilantro, egg, milk or coconut milk, and bread crumbs or oatmeal.

    For Thai curry meatballs I’ll mix in: granted ginger, garlic, sliced green onions, soy sauce, curry powder, and (optional) cilantro, lime juice, egg, milk or coconut milk, and bread crumbs or oatmeal. Just bake for about 12-15 minutes, till cooked through.

    It’s good with a curry simmer sauce or with yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, and lemon juice to dip it in. To round out the meal I like to also roast (cut into bite sized pieces and tossed with oil, garlic, and salt) beets, winter squash, and/or sweet potatoes.

  6. Oh wow ground beef is the only kind we buy because that’s the only kind we can find that’s organic. We use it all the time!
    Here’s a recipe for pesto burgers:
    Also we use it at least once on a week on our homemade pizza.
    I do have a question tho…I can get organic ground beef for about $4/lb at Costco, but it doesn’t say “grass fed.” I can get organic ground beef at our grocery store for $7/lb, but it specifically says “grass fed.” Do you know if it’s worth it to pay an extra $3/lb to make sure that it was grass fed?

    • Find the company (or even better, the farm) that it’s from and call to ask if it’s grass fed AND grass finished. That’s where they get ya because most cows are grass fed at some time, but not grass finished.


      • Isn’t that a kicker? There’s studies done showing that the “finishing” is the MOST crucial part… Even a cow that eats grain all its life is WAAY better for you if it is then finished on grass.

        Our local dairy farmer sells off the males at the appropriate time as beef. They’re grass-fed their whole life, but he WILL pen them up and grain finish them to fatten them up if people want it. Hard to imagine…

    • Yes, I think it’s worth it to find real grassfed meat. The reason organic ground beef is more available than other cuts is that they’re usually taking spent organic dairy cows and grinding the whole carcass, because it would be too tough for steaks. This is fine if it’s a grass based dairy, but if it’s only organic it could very well still be run like a CAFO, the animals are still getting lots of grain (it’s just organic), which means you’re not getting the positive health benefits of grassfed. I would say that buying organic does great things for the environment but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for you. Grassfed accomplishes both.

  7. @LadyKay, check out or to find farmers to buy from directly. I pay about $5/pound for grass fed ground beef. You can meet the farmers and find out exactly how their cattle live.

    @Kelly I wasn’t able to find the article for meatball sub casserole and 3 main dish recipes.

  8. Lady Kay – it is my newbie understanding that all “organic” means is that the animal was fed an organic GRAIN (corn or soy based). They may have even had different treatment and living arrangements so all that is an improvement over traditional CAFO meat. BUT, if you are looking for the benefits of meat that is composed of GRASS (the food cows were made to consume naturally so there are many) then just buying “organic” is not the same at all.


  9. It took many years but finally found a farmer near us that sells “for pet use only” grass-fed no antibiotic beef grown on unsprayed fields. Last time he just ground the whole cow including steaks for only $5.00 pound. Feel blessed that we finally found our organic grass fed beef farmer.

    • What is the reason behind selling it “for pet use only”? He could make more money by not saying that…so there has to be a reason.

        • Tiffany, I understand why people do it for milk, but there is no law against grass-fed beef for humans. That is why I’m confused.

          • I don’t know for sure, since I know it’s not restricted the same way… But that was just a logical guess. Maybe the regulations are not as tight on some kind of inspections? Or the taxes are different? Or a different permit is required? Or ?? *shrug*

          • There are LOTS of laws regulating meat for human consumption. It’s equally as challenging as dairy is. However, dairy is regulated by the FDA and meat is regulated by the USDA. You have to go through a USDA inspected processing plant to be able to legally sell to the public. Many areas don’t have local USDA processors, and most won’t deal with small producers. Because of the many requirements put onto inspected processing plants they usually have to be large facilities and handling lots of volume to be able to afford meeting all the regulations. They usually want 50,000lbs of uniform beeves before they’ll deal with you and then you have to arrange to have your butchered carcasses sent to a USDA or state inspected (depending on the state) cut and wrap facility. Oddly enough the cut wrap facility and slaughter plant are rarely within a couple hours drive of each other. Then there are all sorts of laws regarding labeling and point of sale. Each state has it’s own legalities for selling at a farmers market, and you usually have to have an approved, i.e. expensive, storage facility to keep the meat fresh or frozen. And each state will have different regulations for how on-farm sales can be conducted regarding the size of the building, how many sinks, drains, parking stalls, etc you must have. You can’t put grassfed on your label without approval from the FDA label approval office. I’ve been told they only have about 7 people and handle all the labels in the country. Any claim you make on a product has to be approved, all the way from Cheerios claiming to be heart healthy, to the little rancher wanting to let people know his product is grassfed. Sooooo I imagine this rancher was simply trying to cut costs and bypass the headache. By claiming it’s for pet consumption consumers can legally buy the product for their pets without any of the human consumption laws getting in the way. He probably had someone butcher the beef on his property. So far, like with raw milk, no agencies are prosecuting consumers if they go outside of labeling usage.

  10. This is a recipe from my Gran that I grew up with:
    Mince Stew
    1/2 lb gr beef
    2 potatoes, cubed
    1 onion, diced
    1 carrot, chopped roughly
    salt and pepper
    enough water to just cover the potatoes, meat and veggies

    Brown the beef in a medium sized pot, cut in the rest of the ingredients, add water,season, cook as to boil potatoes, when the carrots are soft enough remove from heat and serve.

    Super simple. Great for a last minute meal as you could even cook from frozen.

    I tend to add a little spoonful of my homemade veggie bouillon to enhance the flavour and sometimes add a shake of Montreal steak spice. My Gran used to add a beef flavour cube. A cup of beef bone broth could even be used but isn’t necessary as the stew is flavourful enough, generally.

  11. I must have truly lucked out because our meat is grass-fed and costs by far less than store bought meat. We purchase 1/4 – 1/2 cow and the cost is well under $2 a pound on average (that’s including steaks, roast, dried beef, beef sticks and ground beef).

      • Iowa. The land of genetically modified corn. It was a fluke I found this farmer at all since it’s not exactly popular to grass-feed your cows in Iowa.

        • Hanging weight is dif than actual weight. Beef is aged for about 2 weeks and it dries out about 60% to what you take home. So hanging weight is how much the cow weighed after slaughter but still with the bones BEFORE it was dry aged. Our beef is $6 per pound for hte whole beef and its about $2 per pound hanging…

          • Allison, after I read this I went, oh DUH! I wondered why mine was so cheap and people were questioning if I really got the “good” stuff, but I get it now. THANK YOU!!!!!

          • Good point Allison, people need to make sure they understand the difference between live weight, hanging weight (whole carcasses gutted), and retail weight (what you take home after the meat has been trimmed and boned-out). Dry aging will change this weight DRASTICALLY! Dry aging allows the beef’s own enzymes to tenderize the muscle fibers while huge amounts of water are allowed to evaporate from the beef concentrating it’s flavor. We raise our animals to between 1150-1200lbs live weight, will end up with about 700lbs hanging weight, and then 360lbs retail weight after a 21 day dry age.

  12. I love making meatballs – they are an easy and tasty comfort food, and this recipe:

    is one of my favorites. I also enjoy making mini meatloaves – great for packing in lunches:

    And chili is always a favorite in our house:

  13. Kelly,
    Thanks for posting this for me! I’ve seen some great ideas so far….but come on people post some more ideas! I need a lot! haha.

  14. Super thankful for this post. At 23 I can really only afford grass-fed ground beef (I buy with liver, heart and tongue) from my farmer. I have so much but have been at a loss for what to do with it these days!

    • Oh you 20-somethings eating Real Food give me great hope that our 19 year old will come back around one of these days!!! Dani, if you don’t have babies yet but plan to someday, wow, you will grow good ones. :)

  15. We are about to get 1/2 a grass-fed beef, and I was tocked to hear you say that about the heart.

    My husband had just asked about the possibility of getting some liver ground in for extra nutrition! Liver has SUCH a flavor, though, that it worried me…

    How much heart is there in your beef? (Half the heart in half a beef, or ??).

    Thank you!!

  16. Though I haven’t done it in a while i love to make 3 or 4 lbs of meatballs and use them as snacks, lunches meatballs subs and in spaghetti!

  17. I agree that this is a great post idea! Thanks! I think I will make your sloppy joes tonight with my homemade ketchup. I will feel like a kid again and that’s a good thing!

  18. We also like to do croquettes. I saute the beef, whatever vegs you like. Then add to cooked and mashed potatoes (I like Yukon gold or sweet, but any kind will do). I roll in egg and then a light coating of almond flour. Cook and eat. You can use up leftovers and any herbs/seasonings to personal preference.

    • So you mix ground beef, veggies and mashed potatoes all together? How do you roll that in an egg and a coating of almond flour? It sounds amazing!

  19. I like making inside-out burgers, where I stuff cheese, onions, mushrooms, etc inside the burger. then when you bit into it’s it’s gooey-goodness.

    If you have ground lamb, we mix in chopped up mint and red onion, and then stick a hunk of feta cheese inside and then grill. OMG, it’s delish.

  20. I like using my ground beef for stuffed zuccini or stuffed peppers. Also as an addition to soups, either as meatballs or not.

    Question on adding organ meats. I can get liver at farmers market, but it’s frozen. Do I just thaw it, cut and freeze again to add later to ground beef? Any ideas on what”s the easiest way to do it?

    • Marta, I’m not sure because I’ve never tried to sneak liver into ground beef before – I know I couldn’t get that one by my family!

    • If you chop up liver (even finely) and add it to your ground beef, it kinda sticks out like a sore thumb – different taste, shape, and texture. If you are cooking for people who like organ meats it is not really that big of a deal, but if you are really seeking to camouflage it, I have found that the best way is using the meat-grinding attachment on my Oster.

        • Or the food processor . . . I would start off with 1/6 or 1/5 organ meat for a first run, and then increase the amount if you think you can get away with it. My liver-hating husband liked my chili just fine with 1/6 liver. (Adding lots of spices also helps to camouflage the liver taste.)

  21. We like to brown 1# of grassfed beef and add it to a crockpot with organic kindey beans, garbanzo beans, chile beans, black beans, and any kind of beans you want, with stewed tomatoes and season as desired and slow cook all day. Very good!!

  22. We will be taking our first homegrown, grassfed steer to the butcher this fall. I plan to have the heart and liver ground right into the ground beef so I won’t even have to think about it…or tell anyone! ;o) Should have done that this winter when we had a very lean bullock processed but I forgot. I do have the organ meats in the freezer still. What I lack are adventureous family members!

  23. There are some real food blogs that discuss how to get the family to eat liver. I prefer cooking is straight so they learn to like it. Sometimes I’m not up for the battle. I make the chicken liver pate recipe from Eat Fat Lose Fat. So at least I’m living the example. Those blogs mention grating liver or putting it through grinder, blender, etc… Then keeping small portions frozen. When you are serving ground beef dish, it can be retrieved from freezer and mixed in.

  24. We eat lots of ground beef…in fact, the past year all we’ve had is ground beef and chicken because that’s all we grew last year! ;o) I made Stroganoff last night. It’s one of our favorites. I am able to buy organic ingredients and our GB is grassfed. We are not glueten free and don’t always have raw dairy other than milk because it takes too much time sometimes (we have dairy goats).

    Season and brown 1 lb ground beef (I just use sea salt)
    add one chopped onion, cook until tender
    because this ground beef is super lean, I added a few tablespoons of butter. Let this sizzle a bit and brown. Then add 3 round spoonfuls of organic, unbleached flour. Season some more. Add one can of sliced mushrooms, undrained (I buy organic w/sea salt)-This makes a fantastic mushroom gravy! :o)
    Then add a tumbler full of warm water, stir to create a gravy. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for a bit, taste test for seasonings. Add what you need. Just before serving remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt) (we use organic and/or raw if we have it). Serve on top of noodles.

    We also like meatloaf (simple) using our fresh ground bread crumbs (I keep a bag in the freezer), garlic, salt and egg.

    Meatza-similar but with onion, garlic, tomato paste or sauce and Italian seasoning added to the mix and topped with a few talbespoons of paste/sauce and then mozzarella cheese.

    Mexican Mealoaf-same as simple only with onion, garlic and green chiles added, topped with Jack cheese. Garnish with salsa, guacamole, sour cream. Serve with any Mexican-y sides or not.

    Meatballs. S.O.S. on toast. Burgers. Tacos.

    And our Friday night favorite: Burger steak with oven fries, potato planks or baked potatoes and corn. Simple but good.

  25. We usually have our butcher NOT grind our beef for us. I make it myself with the grinder attachment on my KitchenAid Mixer. Much better to make your own ground chuck, especially if you ask for the tallow, and that way if it’s too lean, you can add in some of your own to make it whatever % you want.

    Also, Stanley Fishman recently had a post on his blog about making 7 bone roasts into a couple of steaks and ending up with a chuck roast, so my DH and I have been doing that recently and having good luck. We took it one step further though, and made the chuck roast into ground beef, or at least added it to other meat; sometimes we add organ meat, sometimes not. Here’s the link to his article if anyone is interested in trying this. He’s got such a great blog but it’s pretty sporadic.

    One of our favorite dishes with ground beef is like a lazy man’s stuffed cabbage rolls. You just brown the meat with onion and whatever spices you like, throw it into a roaster pan/casserole dish (or crock pot I suppose, although I’ve never done that) stir in some tomato paste, tomato sauce, ketsup, stewed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes – just whatever combination you like, then stir in some chopped cabbage and just a dash of crushed anise seed. You can doll it up however else you like, but those are the basic ingredients. Serve it with toasted sourdough thick bread slices and some steamed peas. YUM!

  26. what is the proportion of the heart to ground beef? I asked that they blend 10lbs in with the heart…with the heart weighing 3 lbs…just curious if theres a certain ratio that works out better as far as nutrition is concerned. well, besides, just eating 100% heart. Not there yet :)

  27. Kelly, thanks a million for this trick! I did 25% heart on our last order of groung bison and none of us knew the difference. Hooray! Do you (or others) have any other tricks for getting in more organ meats? I have tried cooking liver on its own but it was not very enjoyable to a family not used to it. Also I am a city girl and a bit squeamish about organs. I am trying to do the protocol for healing tooth decay. One idea I have so far is using Thai fish sauce as a salt substitute per NT. Thx!!

  28. Yes, tried that. I’m not very good at swallowing pills, or pill-sized liver, so I ended up chewing them to get it down. I wonder if kdoing a small percentage of liver in with ground, like we do with the heart, would be detectable..
    ..maybe 25% heart and 5% liver or something

  29. There were some good ideas on this post (Lots of good ones in the comment section, too) but this was in July and now it’s December 31 and I’m looking for more new ideas for ground beef. We love meatloaf, and meatballs and hamburger patti’s as much as the next guy, but I’m being asked by my DH for some more variety. 8 -\) If he only knew how little time I have to dig through all my recipe boxes and cookbooks scattered all over creation to look for recipes! I’ve tried to organize them all into one spot, but it’s just not happening. Too many book and boxes, and not enough space or time to do it all.

    So, I figured I’d try to motivate others to help me come up with something new.

    We do love hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes – that used to be one of the best school lunches we had back in the 1950’s and 1960’s – when those old German lady cooks at our school used REAL potatoes (not boxed junk) and real hamburger from a butcher just down the street from the school. They browned the ground beef with oodles and oodles of onions and then made a semi-thick gravy which was then plopped on top of a mound of buttered mashed potatoes. It was normally served with baked carrots or peas. YUM.

    Don’t be afraid to take recipes from old cookbooks and post it here (or at the recipe section at my recently resurrected forum ) because I can always change out the ingredients for healthier stuff (like changing oleo to butter, etc) or whatever. I need casserole recipes! Lots of ’em. Thanks for any and all contributions.

  30. chili, albondigas, meat pies, tacos or tostadas, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti with meatballs. Also, when I make beef stroganoff, I just use ground beef instead of steak.

  31. I do two things most often. One is to Pot an over easy egg and a pat of butter on top and call it breakfast. The other- I melt a block of cream cheese in a little butter, stir till smooth, add a tbs bone broth, stir till smooth, usually after three or four tbs broth, I can add the rest of about 1/2 cup broth. Then add sea salt, garlic powder, pepper, sage, parsley, and a blend of vegetables (I like the Cascadian farms Chinese blend, but anything with mushrooms and onions would be good). Then add the cooked burger and either cooked rice or cooked pasta. I usually don’t repurpose leftovers, but this would be ideal for that. Also, a bit of Parmesan after the herbs but before the vegetables is very nice.

  32. Asian Lettuce Wrap Filling (beef instead of pork) … make a big batch & freeze in dinner portions. amazing

  33. I like to make soup by browning a chopped onion in some butter with a pound of ground beef, add a bunch of chopped bok choy and saute until everything is tender. Then I add enough homemade beef broth to make it a soup, season with Chinese Five Spice powder, and simmer until all the flavors come together. Last time I also added cubed butternut squash at the same stage as the onion, and simmered at the end until the squash was cooked. This soup is always a hit with the whole family!

  34. There we go! Wow, some super ideas are popping up now. My DH won’t eat ground beef in soup for some strange reason, but I love it that way so I will try that for sure just for myself. ALL of the other ideas so far sound amazing and do-able.

    I like things I can throw together on weekends and put into the fridge so that M-F all I have to do is haul out something and reheat it. I have little time during the day to mess around with food, so I really need to have things ready to go, or at least have everything chopped so all I have to do is combine stuff, put it on low heat and then check it from time to time until it’s ready to eat when I get time to sit down for a second or two.

    The lettuce wraps sound super easy to do, and the hamburger muffins sound like perfect finger food – just my style. I even like hamburger patties and meatloaf cold after a day or two in the fridge. I just won’t eat beef (or any meat for that matter) reheated. Blech. It gets a weird taste.

    Thanks so much for all the great ideas. Keep ’em coming if you think of more.

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